Married to Nature

I spent today in a local arboretum, laying on a blanket in the sunshine, watching strangers set up for a sure-to-be-fabulous wedding.

20140531-145256-53576780.jpg
20140531-145258-53578861.jpg
20140531-145259-53579778.jpg
20140531-145257-53577824.jpg

I kind of had an epiphany in the process. The birds were chirping, soft wedding music drifted quietly in the wind, and I felt this weird tranquility that quickly translated to an infectious happiness.

Like the rest of you, my busy days lend little time to doing nothing. I live in the hustle and bustle of crazy LA, and my “outside” adventures usually consist of going to the beach or hitting up popular hiking trails.

This idea of nothingness… of sitting around by myself, listening to nature, and trying to fully clear my thoughts… It’s beautiful! I’m obsessed! I literally can’t get enough.

As the day progressed, I feared my wedding prep observing might turn into
“Who is that creepy stranger?” inquiries, so I ventured further into the arboretum, inspired to take pics to share with you all, proving the beauty & overwhelming perfection of nature.

20140531-145754-53874020.jpg20140531-145748-53868974.jpg 20140531-145027-53427209.jpg20140531-145757-53877866.jpg20140531-145755-53875052.jpg20140531-145752-53872058.jpg
20140531-145751-53871034.jpg
20140531-145749-53869995.jpg
20140531-145747-53867705.jpg20140531-145756-53876802.jpg
20140531-145753-53873093.jpg

I hope you enjoy! This is totally my new version of therapy… It’s even better than shopping (I can’t believe I just said that).

Advertisements

LC’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 8.10.48 PM

◊ How perfect is Lauren Conrad? Even her cookies (above) are flawless ◊


LC is a goddess. If she’s allowed to eat chocolate chip cookies then HELL, so are we. We based these perfect cookies off of the original Lauren Conrad Recipe, but made a few tweaks customized to our taste!

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
♥1 teaspoon baking soda
♥½ teaspoon of sea salt (plus more for sprinkling on top)
♥1 stick butter
♥½ cup Greek yogurt
♥1 ¼ cup packed coconut sugar
♥¼ cup granulated sugar
♥1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
♥2 teaspoons vanilla extract
♥½ cup carob chips
♥½ cup chocolate chips

The how to:

  1. Mix together dry ingredients.
  2. Combine melted butter and Greek yogurt. Add sugars to the mix until well blended, then add egg yolk and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry ingredients slowly, mixing until combined. Add carob / chocolate chips to taste.
  4. Place dough on a cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Sprinkle sea salt on top right after they come out of the oven!
  5. Lauren Lowstan’s Tip: If you want to get the perfect chocolate chip cookies that are crispy on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside, then refrigerate your dough balls for 24-48 hours before baking. Make sure to bring to room temperature before putting in the oven. This will give your cookies the perfect crispy-to-chewy ratio.

And you’re ready to enjoy! We love ours with a Yogi Chai Green Tea latte (seep green tea packet in warm almond milk).

DIY Cork Pinboard

corks

I’ve been wanting to make a wine cork pin board for pretty much forever. I thought I drank more than enough wine to make this a reality, but making a decent sized pin board actually takes a TON of corks. Get drinking, my friends.

20140526-163843-59923049.jpg 20140526-163844-59924868.jpg

Here’s what you’ll need:
♥A foam board or piece of cardboard as your base. I used a small piece of foam board that I had laying around! (If you want to get really fancy, you can buy a frame and fill it in!) This was my first cork board though, and I wanted to keep it simple.
♥Glue. Soooo much freaking glue. I only bought one tube of tacky glue, then resorted to using two backup Elmer’s glues, and STILL didn’t have enough. Just get a shieeeez ton of glue… You worked hard drinking all that wine! The least you can do is make sure those corks are well attached to your base.
♥Corks. Needless to say, enough to fill your canvas.
♥An old paintbrush to spread glue

20140526-163839-59919338.jpg20140526-163838-59918687.jpg 20140526-163839-59919989.jpg

Tips:
♥Get creative with patterns! There are so many online / on Pinterest! I really liked the simple tiled approach, which is pretty much fool-proof for noobs like me!
♥Cutting corks in half would really help in terms of affixing them sturdily to a base, but it’s sooo hard to cut a cork in half! I have super sharp knives and still couldn’t slice these suckers. (I even almost lost a finger. Not down.)

20140526-163840-59920643.jpg

And you’re done! So easy and such a cute pin board for photos, recipes, calendars, and more! :)

Skinny Minnie Lunch: Quinoa Salad + Bubbly!

20140526-144246-52966193.jpg

This salad is so yummy!! It’s perfect for weekends like Memorial day when you’re going to be in a bikini and don’t want to bloat &/or overeat in the sunshine!

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥ 1 cup quinoa,  cooked
♥A few sprigs of mint leaves (ours are fresh from the garden! yay!)
♥ 1/2 tomato, diced
♥1/2 cucumber, diced
♥1 full grapefruit

Mix it all together and serve! We like to garnish with extra mint. Bonus: the grapefruit juice acts as a divine dressing, making this salad super low-cal!

20140526-144246-52966966.jpg

Of course, why save all those calories if not to have a little drinky too ;)

I made grapefruit bellinis with my faveee champ – Perrier Jouet! (Yep – we got the extra large bottle. Party time!)

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥Champagne
♥Grapefruit

Scoop out some fresh grapefruit juice & meat and place into the bottom of a champagne flute. Top with your favorite champagne. Enjoy. Repeat.

20140526-144247-52967969.jpg

20140526-144245-52965609.jpg

DIY Lip Scrub

20140524-131707-47827252.jpg

Summer weather seems to be in full swing, and I’m thankful that I can finally start to kiss away my dry, chapped lips. Speed up the process to soft, supple lips with my homemade lip scrub, below! 

I’m a sucker for trying new beauty fixes from Sephora, and there’s a whole spectrum of lip scrubs and rejuvenating lip balms out there — most of which come at a hefty $ considering the small size.

This DIY option is a great alternative. It’s made pretty much entirely of items that you likely already have at home, and you can create a fresh batch whenever you’re craving super soft lips!

20140524-131728-47848425.jpg

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥ 1 teaspoon coconut oil at room temp
♥ 1 tablespoon brown sugar
♥ 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (white sugar works fine too)
♥ 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar

20140524-131712-47832106.jpg20140524-131709-47829880.jpg20140524-131713-47833080.jpg20140524-131714-47834158.jpg

Mix it all up and massage into your lips for 30 seconds. Wipe off with a cloth and rinse face.

When you’re all done, layer a generous amount of vaseline over your lips and let it soak up! For an extra glow-y, just-back-from-vacay look, pair this lip treatment with our sugar face mask, and finish it all with our favorite blush & lip tint supertrick! You’ll look like a glowing goddess straight off the beaches! Winter dryness: be gone!

Happy glowing everyone! ;)

Travel Diary: Belize

20140510-144237.jpg

I recently returned from my trip abroad to Belize! It was such an incredible adventure that combined elements of volunteering and vacationing! I spent a week teaching financial literacy lessons at local schools, but left feeling like I learned more than I ever could have contributed. The hope, determination, and will to persevere that I saw through the eyes of young children in Belize was inspiring beyond anything that I’ve experienced in my life. After a week of being covered in dirt, sweat, and unreal amounts of bug spray, I was sad to leave the kids for a tropical vacation (which was, needless to say, amazing).

The students in my class lived in the conditions pictured below. Their homes were dirty and often devoid of AC or running water. To provide some added context, most students would choose not to eat the lunches we provided, instead saving the contents to share with their families when they got home. They would return to school the next day, beaming with pride knowing that they were providing for their loved ones. Ahem, what!? Take my food too!!

photo (6)20140515-230512.jpgphoto (7)20140515-230437.jpg

While I provided students with the technical resources to create budgets and design business plans, my Belizian teens knew more about life and survival than I could teach them. By the end of the week, each group had created their own entrepreneurial business plan that was showcased at our Community Fair. Street skills, diverse talents, and financial literacy concepts were brought together as students manned booths promoting their own unique products. Read on, and be inspired:

Kareema is an elementary school girl with a passion for fashion and couture. With the right planning, she realized that she could sell her goods at a profit, reinvest her earnings, and continue designing new fashions. Her dream is to attend fashion school in the US in the hopes of one day having a career — something no woman in her family has ever had. You go girl! She made me cry by giving me a hand-crafted cosmetic bag before I left.

20140510-144514.jpg

Another group of talented boys combined elements of fashion and recycling by reusing old forks, bedazzling them, and turning them into real style statements! How fab do I look in that fork bracelet?

20140510-145228.jpg

Other entrepreneurial ideas included selling Sweet N Hot Mango Sauce (SO GOOD), crafting jewelry, and using colorful textiles to make backpacks, purses, and reusable shopping satchels.

20140510-144214.jpg
20140510-144305.jpg
20140515-225209.jpg

One of the cutest parts of the Community Fair? Seeing the children get really excited! People from all over the community showed up and dressed up (as super random things… I’m still trying to figure it out).

20140515-230308.jpg20140515-230412.jpg

When all was said and done, I felt that I really did make a difference in Belize. The hardest thing was leaving these students after spending such a meaningful week together. I have memories that will last a lifetime, and can only hope that we’ll be able to stay in touch and cross paths again in the future. Little do they know how much they’ve impacted me, kept me grounded, and made me reevaluate my life ♥

20140515-230455.jpg

Post being a volunteer do-gooder, I headed to the beautiful Ambergris Caye island to spend a weekend in paradise. Find my reviews and must-dos below!

1. Coco Beach Resort

Coco Beach resort is the finest on the island, and was full of tan, island-hopping tourists. It’s beautiful beyond belief and well stocked with all the luxuries that vacationers yearn for. Get a private massage on the beach for only $50, or enjoy the resort’s free amenities like paddle boards, kayaks, snorkeling, pool volleyball, water slides, jumping rocks, and MORE! (Can I stay here forever?)

20140510-144256.jpg

◊  Just hangin’ in my hammock… hakuna matata! 

20140510-144325.jpg

 ◊ How pretty is this!? Private kayack / snorkeling launch pad? Thanks Coco Beach! ◊

20140510-144354.jpg

◊ Did some damage at the pool vball court after a few too many dark n’ stormies. Sorry we’re not sorry Coco Beach ◊

 

2. Fishing / snorkeling / boating excursions

These excursions all launch out of San Pedro. Make sure to sign up ahead of time and you’ll get VIP access to the Caribbean’s most pristine turquoise waters. An extra bonus? Enjoy water taxi service to destinations all over the island and you feel like you never leave the beach!

20140510-144344.jpg

◊ Who wants to go fishing here!? So pretty. Sign me up ◊

photo (8)

◊ Sailing adventure ◊

20140510-145324.jpg

◊ Take me away!!!! Yacht dinner cruises forever ◊

20140515-230539.jpg

◊ This water park is badass. Hit up Old Belize for $10 all day entry. Cheapest day of all day fun ever! ◊

Other travel tips:

♥The water taxi is the best method of getting from the main land to the islands, and if you can get a seat outdoors, it’s a beautiful and scenic ride!

♥The city of San Pedro is where it all goes down with bars, dancing, and shopping.

♥If you’re looking to hit the bar and chill, just stay pool-side, or hit up Palapa bar, a super sweet setup that lowers beer down over the pier as you sit in floating inner tubes. I could have sat there all day! (oh wait… I did!)

♥Wild Mangos is known as the must-go-to restaurant, and has killer pina coladas!

♥Side note… my fave drinks from the trip, pictured below (Pina Colada, Water out of a bag — thats how they drink it?!, and Belikin Beer)

20140515-230346.jpg 20140515-225243.jpg 20140515-230526.jpg

Overall conclusion? Vacationing in the Carribbean is amazing, but it feels that much better after impacting the world, even just a tiny bit.

Lesson: be the change ♥

Spaghetti Squash

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 8.57.22 PM

Spaghetti Squash

Gluten free diet or nah? This dish is great regardless if you are on a diet or not! The spaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta. After the squash is cooked, the long crunchy strands come out closely resembling noodles. There are a variety of ways to use spaghetti squash, but this is my preferred method, which is super fast, easy, and YUMMY!

Ingredients:
Spaghetti Squash
Microwave
Large sharp knife
 Fork
Microwavable bowl

IMG_00071.  Cut your spaghetti squash in half

IMG_00082. Scoop out the insides of the Spaghetti Squash

IMG_00093. Poke some holes in the squash with a fork and fill up the half with some water.

IMG_00104. Cover the squash with wax paper and then put it in the microwave for 6 minutes.

(Check it after the 6 minutes are up – if it is not soft, you may need to go longer)

IMG_00115. Once the spaghetti squash is done cooking – scrape the sides for the long “pasta-esque” strands. Feel free to add any sauce or toppings you would like to complete the dish.

IMG_0012There you go! Your quick and easy recipe for a yummy Spaghetti squash dish!

Enjoy :)

Summer Skincare… Your questions answered!

20140517-165723.jpg

Living in So-Cal means that Summer Skincare is always on our minds here at Halfsies. Every year we struggle the perpetual issues of summer… sweating our makeup off, oily sunscreen breakouts, burns, tan lines, & dulled manis (just to name a few).

Here, we put together a list of the most notorious repeat offenders—-plus, an arsenal of tips that leave you on top and #winning! (We love winning)

1. I always hear that if I don’t wear sunscreen, my skin will age prematurely, get wrinkly, and suffer from sunspots. I don’t want that, but sunscreen always makes me break out like crazy! What can I do to have the best of both worlds?

This is a common issue for women of all ages, but with time we’ve realized that it all comes down to your skin type, and the quality of the products that you’re using! Shiseido & Lancaster Sun Sport make excellent face sunscreens that are super protective and won’t make you break out (Halfsies tested!). Lancaster Comfort Touch Cream is a great base that “provides an ideal gradual golden tan  while maintaining firmness and elasticity.” Cover up with the makeup found in Shiseido’s UV Protective Stick Foundation. This combo should provide the perfect amount of coverage & sun protection. Our #1 tip? Don’t make the mistake of caking makeup over your sunscreen… if you’re spending a day in the sun, chances are you’ll sweat off all those layers anyways! Keep coverage light, and you’ll avoid sweating it all off! 

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.52.56 PM

2. Summer is the time to show off my cute mani-pedi, but just one day in the sand or chlorine and my nails lose their luster and start to fade!! What can I do to keep my polish looking fresh?

This is a perpetual problem for all of us, but there are 2 simple solutions. First, make sure you’ve got on a solid top coat. If your mani/pedi is more than a few days old, we suggest reapplying a protective top coat. Second, lather yourself up with sunscreen! Gross as it sounds, sunscreen can double as a cuticle/nail oil and will keep your polish fresh by acting as a protective layer.

3. I hate wearing makeup when it’s super warm, especially if I know I’m going to be near water (ocean, pools, etc). Waterproof products get clumpy and are so hard to remove at the end of the day, but non waterproof turn into a sweaty smeared mess! Don’t even get me started on face makeup.

Go with the waterproof stuff. Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner is a faveeee for all the time (not just when you’re exposed to the water). Use it, use it, use it! And while waterproof mascara can get clumpy, it will flake off instead of smearing all over your pretty face. Plus, once makeup starts to smear, you’ll likely rub your eyes/face, exposing the thin, sensitive skin near your eyes to extra sun damage!! Premature eye wrinkles, NO thank you! Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara is a classic, and is super affordable (yay!). Another solid option? Curl your lashes and ditch the eye makeup altogether (we heart Tweezerman’s eyelash curler). If you’re in the sun, you should be hiding under a pair of good quality sunnies anyways. As for face makeup, choose something that already has SPF built in. We like Shiseido’s UV Protective Stick Foundation (above) or Coola Face SPF 30 Mineral Matte Tint Unscented. Coola is amazeballs because it’s chemical free and lightly tinted. It protects you from the sun and all the chemical crap that’s found in other sunscreens. Talk about a winner.

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 11.11.43 PM

 

4. I know excess sun exposure can lead to serious healthcare concerns, but I’m very fair skinned and need that extra pigment to make me glow! Spray tans can get pricey quickly. Any suggestions?

Ditch the sun exposure and fake it! Try to stay under umbrellas when you’re at the beach or pool, and make sure that you’re wearing at least SPF50 when there’s no shade. Set yourself up for success by using fake-tanning products like Bare Minerals Faux on the Go Tan for body and face, or St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse. Both are easy to apply at home and provide streak-free results.

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 10.10.12 AM

5. What areas am I forgetting when I apply my sunscreen?

Don’t forget your hair part, the tops of your feet, your fingers, or your ears! Try Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil for your hair!

755b45d524df39e5_aveda_suncare

 

6. Lotion makes me feel sticky during peak summer temps. How do I stay moisturized without feeling icky all the time?

Use the spray stuff! Vaseline sells cheapy body lotion sprays, but out favorite light-weight formula is H20 plus Sea Moss Replenishing Body Lotion Spray. The hints of fresh Water Lilly are super refreshing, and the misty spray moisturizes and cools simultaneously.

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 10.17.08 AM

 

7. I want to use really high SPF sunscreens, but they’re nearly impossible to spread because they’re so thick! What can I do?

Try mixing your sunscreen with an SPF infused body oil. It really helps your sunscreen to spread without diluting the content! Clarins Sunscreen Care Oil Spray SPF 30 is the bomb!

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 10.23.16 AM

Got any unanswered questions? Additional tips? We’d love to hear!! Comment below :)

Weekend Wardrobe #3: Nordstrom, Free People, Forever21

20140518-180539.jpg20140518-180517.jpg
20140518-180526.jpg
20140518-180556.jpg
20140518-180612.jpg
20140518-180621.jpg
20140518-180627.jpg20140518-181321.jpg20140518-185935.jpg

This week’s inspo comes from the beautiful weather we’re having in SoCal! I wanted to put together a look that was brunch appropriate and simultaneously beach-ready! Patterned stretch skirts and flowy crop tops pair super well and are both versatile and comfy! Wear your hair in a casual top knot, and you’ve perfected the look! I’m sporting this style all summer long folks!

This Week’s Look:

◊ Skirt – Nordstrom ◊
◊ Shirt – Forever 21 ◊
◊ Necklace – Forever 21 ◊
◊ Bralette – Free People ◊
◊ Sunnies – Thrift ◊

DIY Twist Bands

20140516-110602.jpg

I’m obsessed with twist band hair ties, but let’s cut the crap. These things go for like $2 a pop at the cheapest which is completely absurd. Follow the simple tutorial below to make your own and save some dollas.

What you’ll need to make 4 bands:

♥ 1 yard fold over elastic, any color (find this at any fabric store)
♥ Craft scissors
♥ Ruler

The how-to:

First, gather your supplies. You can get a yard of fold-over elastic for $2-$3. Cut roughly 9.5″ sections.

20140516-110630.jpg

Once you’ve cut the elastic into sections, fold one of them in half.

20140516-110638.jpg

Loosely tie the whole thing into a knot, then slowly tighten, pushing the knot upwards towards the tip of the elastic.

20140516-110643.jpg

Voila! You can make a bunch in just a few minutes. Notice how some of the edges may fray? Trim the lose ends down and top off with a light coat of clear nail polish.

20140516-110649.jpg

The best part of all? These bad boys are super good for your hair and double as an adorable accessory. Check out our post here to find ways to pair your bands with your fave watches and jewelry!